April is sexual assault awareness month. I joined my mover&shaker friends to help plan the first annual Rape Awareness Event hosted by BYU Women's Studies Honor Society. Dr. Julie Valentine's research assistants presented the haunting facts about rape in Utah. They are doing amazing things to change the response to sexual assault. The facts are scary, but I have hope for the future. We can be part of the solution. We can start by believing.
Taylor from Honey (a nonprofit for sexual assault survivors) then shared her story and how we can help change the culture. I had a class with Taylor last semester. She is amazing. She has taken an ugly experience and turned it into a beautiful mission that has helped countless survivors.
The room was packed. There were almost 300 people in attendance. This is a conversation people want to have. It was awesome to get feedback from our peers. I've had several people tell me the event was really eye opening.
We also accidentally stirred up a big pot (well, we didn't stir the pot - but the pot was stirred). A Title IX admin was in attendance and she responded to a question in the Q&A session (note: she was not on the panel) and now every time I get on Facebook I see another article about her response. It's a mess. But the event was very good regardless.
The night before the BYU event, Caroline and I helped out with UVU's event. They had a benefit concert to raise money for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. The concert was good, but the coolest part was walking through the clothesline project. The project originally started at BYU, but moved to UVU several years ago. People can write about their experiences with sexual assault on tshirts and then they hang them up for everyone to see. Some are angry shirts. Some are shirts about forgiveness and letting go. Walking up and down the aisles was an emotional experience.
If you haven't seen The Hunting Ground I suggest you watch it. It's a documentary about rape on college campuses. It's on Netflix.
I don't know how to fix it. But I don't want to ignore it until I think of a solution. I can't ignore it.